Epidemic of violence against women – 11/19/2023 – Marcia Castro

Epidemic of violence against women – 11/19/2023 – Marcia Castro

In 2022, all forms of violence against women increased in Brazil, as reported by the Brazilian Public Security Yearbook. More specifically, there was an increase in cases and attempts of homicide and femicide, in the proportion of femicides in relation to homicides, in domestic and psychological violence, in rapes and rape of vulnerable people, in calls to 190 and in requests for protective measures.

On average, 2022 recorded almost four femicides daily, 673 cases of domestic violence, 17 cases of sexual harassment, 50 rapes and 156 rapes of vulnerable people. Around 60 protective measures were requested and 51 granted per hour (only 85% of the measures were complied with). Numbers from the first half of 2023 indicate a worsening in these statistics.

The demographic characteristics of the victims reflect an even more dramatic side of the violence. Femicides and rapes are mostly committed against black women, replicating inequities observed in other social indicators.

Considering the age group, 61.4% of rapes in 2022 had children under 13 as victims and 10.4% were under four years old. Every day, 19 children under the age of four were raped. In most cases, the aggressor was a family member.

The number of rapes in 2022 is the highest ever reported, even if it is only a fraction of the real number. This is because the numbers in the yearbook are sourced from police reports, that is, they are the cases in which victims seek help from the State.

An alternative source, the Violence and Accident Surveillance System (Viva/Sinan) of the Ministry of Health, also presents under-registration as it only includes cases that reach the health service.

As shown in a study by the Institute of Applied Economic Research published this year, only 8.5% of rapes are reported to the police and 4.2% reach the health service. Just as rape is under-reported, other statistics on violence against women are almost certainly also under-reported.

In other words, if the numbers reported by police reports or by health already reveal a critical situation, the reality is much worse than what is seen in official statistics. A United Nations bulletin considers feminicide in Latin America a hidden epidemic, a portrait of the violation of women’s human rights.

Another type of violence, for which there is no specific federal legislation in Brazil, is obstetric violence. A Fiocruz survey showed that between 2011 and 2012, obstetric violence was reported by 45% of women treated in the public network and 30% of those treated in the private network. Faced with this problem, in March this year the Special Commission on Obstetric Violence and Maternal Death was created in the Chamber of Deputies. On the 21st, the Social Affairs Committee (CAS) of the Federal Senate will launch the 10th edition of the National Survey on Violence against Women with data for 2022. The message should not be very different from what has already been released.

Violence against women is not a new problem. But the recent worsening did not happen by chance. The reduction in the budget and actions to combat violence against women between 2019 and 2022, the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic and the conservative trend at various decision-making levels in the country certainly contributed (and still contribute) to this scenario.

Violence against women and girls affects victims, families and society as a whole. Violence violates human rights, steals a dignified future and exposes the most sordid side of human beings.

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